Wednesday, 2 September 2015

3 Weeks in Europe - My Eos M3 Review - 3rd time lucky?


I have just come back from three weeks in Germany and Italy where I used my new Canon Eos M3 daily as a travel camera, photographing people, structures, landscapes and even some attempts at 'street photography'.



       Atrani , Amalfi Coast 2015


In this user report I will share with you my thoughts on how the Canon Eos M3 behaved as my backup compact camera and what worked and what didn't. 

Included also a portfolio of 30 images of my travel photographs of Germany and the Amalfi.

Please keep in mind that my style is more documentary and austere in nature. I am a bit old school so I have little use for Jpegs and Picture styles, Program modes and 'Creative  Angles'. I mostly use only the AV and Manual settings on my cameras and many of the features and functions I never use and don't know where to find them or even realize they exist! So this is not a comprehensive review of all the features and function of the M3, but rather a more  practical user report on how the M3 fared on my travels through Germany and Italy...

I also unfortunately only got the EVF after I arrived back home from Europe so I have little to say about it now except that its great!


Why the Canon Eos M3?


         
        Canon Eos M3 with EF-M 22mmf2 STM lens and Electronic Viewfinder DC-1


A bit of Background.

I use a Canon Eos 6D for my Professional and Personal work. It is a superb camera that just 'works'.  I have a relatively small collection of lenses that I have carefully selected over the years for my professional needs and which I use for interiors including kitchens, architecture & industrial, people and portraits and some general advertising, studio and corporate photography...




        The Island of Procida near Naples, 2015




My lens collection is as follows:

1. EF 100mm f2.8 Macro for studio, close-ups & portraits

2. EF 85mm f1.8 for portraiture & personal

3.TS-E 24mm F3.5L & EF 17-40mm f4L for interiors, architecture & Industrial

4. Ef 70-300f4-5.6 L zoom for industrial & lately also portriats

5. EF40mm F2.8 for general and personal work.

I also have few Canon Speedlite flashes.

You might have noticed that I listed only two lenses for personal work. I really prefer fewer lenses than more and mostly use only the 40mmf2.8 pancake lens for my personal work. 

The nice thing about my Canon system is that it just keeps on working without fail! In the 4 years I had my previous camera, the Eos 5dmk2 and the almost 2 years now with the Eos 6D I have never had a problem with the cameras or lenses and I have never had a 'fail' on the job or elsewhere, 'touch wood'!

But a 'professional' must have a backup camera just in case . The things is, should I buy another relatively expensive 6D that's just going to sit in my camera with a good chance that it will seldom/never be used ?

I am also not the type of person that likes to own a lot of cameras and lenses, I firmly believe 'less is more'' so having a bunch of cameras lying around is just not for me and also of course I just simply cannot afford lots of 'camera stuff'.

A backup camera that's relatively inexpensive and can accommodate all my lenses will thus be high on my desirability list!



        Naples, Italy 2015


And that's why the M3 is so appealing to me...

Its relatively inexpensive, and over here about a third of the price of the 6D.

Its a different camera experience being small and mirrorless but at the same time it integrates seamlessly with all the rest of my Canon stuff which means I can use it as a backup should my 6D ever fail.

Its compact and light enough not to weigh down my camera bag and needs only a tiny little bit of space,

It is a high quality camera with a 24mp sensor that should rival the image quality of my 6D which is only a 'mere' 20mp.

And, I thought it will be the perfect travel camera for those times I just didn't feel like slugging my relatively bigger and heavier 6D around..

Yes you might say but the Aps-C sensor has a 1.6x crop factor and thus your wide angle lenses are wide no more...

The thing is that I am not really a wide angle lens person and the least used lens in my bag is the 17-40mm f4L zoom. So the 24mm tilt and shift becomes a 38mm lens on the M3 which is not too far off my favorite focal length of 35-40mm and I can always get the relatively inexpensive but quite good 10-18mm  aps-c zoom from Canon should I feel the need for a wide angle lens.

And of course for my personal work I have the tiny EF-M 22mm f2 prime lens for the M which is the full frame equivalent of a 35mm lens, my preferred focal length. 

Its relatively inexpensive and not having to build another system is of course the biggest money saver.

Last but not least is the availability of an EVF. The original M didn't have it and for an old school photographer like me squinting at a little screen dangling at arms length has little appeal!


        
        The EF mount adapter above is probably the most compelling reason to buy into
        the EosM system. 

As you all know the crop sensor of the M3's aps-c sensor also multiplies the range of my existing EF lenses by a factor of 1.6. My EF 85mm f1.8 now becomes the equivalent to a 135mm f1.8...faster, more compact and much less expensive than the EF 135mm f2 L full frame version.



        Canon Ef 85mm f1.8 lens mounted on the M3 via the EF lens adapter. The 
        lens looks big on the M3 but is actually surprisingly well balanced and handles 
        well, giving a 135mm equivalent full frame field of view. 
      

       
Other options.

I was keen to get the Fuji X100T or S model but the much higher price, almost double,  the lack of interchangeable lenses and the relatively 'old' 16mp sensor also put me off somewhat. The same with the Fuji XE2.  I don't really like having different camera systems if I can help it because nothing is interchangeable & compatible and trying to figure out more than one menu system is just too much hassle...I already have a hard time trying to remember all the menus & settings of my 6D!

The Sony A6000 and X100mk3/4 also looked interesting but Sony has pulled out of our country and stocks and backup have become problematic.

The Panasonic LX100 has really caught my eye but the very high price over here and only having 13mp was also problematic for me. But I think it can be a very good street camera...

Then there is of course Canons own D-SLR options, but I must say that apartment from the 7Dmk2, which 'doesn't tick the money box unfortunately, none have really interested me... The new Eos5Ds/r are of course high on my list of desirable camerasbut they are not 'backup' cameras and their price makes them a little bit out of reach for now.

So in the end I took the plunge and got the new Eos M3 sight unseen from the Orms online store in Cape Town.




        Food market Naples, Italy 2015


First Impressions.

My first impressions were rather disappointing  as the kit lens was quite soft at the wide end in the corners and I thought the new 24mp sensor was quite noisy especially in the shadows when pushed. At this stage the AF seemed ok. The relatively poor quality of the kit zoom once again reminded me what a crucial part a lens plays in the whole image quality chain.

I took many many test shots at all iso's and apertures and processed with Lightroom CC and Canon's own DPP4. Eventually I also got another kit zoom lens from Orms that was generally sharper but still somewhat soft in the corners in the 40-55mm range -what is it with Canon's lens quality control??

Eventually I got a handle on the camera and the processing of the images and decided that I had enough confidence in the M3 to use it on my European holiday. 

I must also just say that as opposed to my 6D that had virtually no learning curve this little M3 had me stumped for a while before I figured out how to get the best out of it....

I tried  to limit my use of the tele end of the 18-55mm IS kit zoom lens and only used it between the 18-35mm focal length range which is the equivalent in full frame terms of about 28-50mm. I just had to remember to keep within that zoom range and the sharpness would be acceptable. I still made many images at the more 'unsharp-in-the-corners' tele range, keeping in mind that I could crop out the softer edges  afterwards.

Improvements

So after coming back from my holiday where I shot over 12 000 images ( M3 & 6D combined ) and used over 400gigs of hard drive space I think I have a much better idea what the M3 is about!

So let me start with what works well and some of the improvements of the newer  M3 over the older M
    
     

1. More Dials & Customization options


The M3 is a lot more user friendly in that it has more dials and buttons on the body itself and relies less on the very good touchscreen for basic camera settings.

Exposure compensation and the PASM dials are now easily accessible on top of the camera without first going into the menu. The dials are nice and stiff ( almost too stiff for the exposure compensation dial) and won't easily be accidentally moved.

The most important improvement though is the new dial around the shutter release button that can be used for aperture or shutter speed selection depending which PASM mode is being used. Its quick and easy.



        
        Detail showing the new dials and button on the top plate. 

        The dial around the shutter button will change the aperture if set in AV mode.


        The little M-FN button to the right of the shutter release can be set for a                         variety different functions as well. I have mine set to change the single
        or continuous exposure settings

        Also note, in the image above, the contacts for the EVF is actually inside the hot 
        shoe. This is a most elegant solution for connecting the EVF to the camera.


        
        The Q-button on the rear dial brings up some important menu functions without 
        having to look for them in the menu. Things like 'self timer' can only be accessed
        with the Q button...


      


        By pressing the the 'delete or 'dustbin icon' button enables me to do a fast  
        selection of the AF options, of which there are now only two, as can be seen in
        the image above. The old M had three AF options.

       

The Single AF point selection method is the one I use most and I can move the AF point around the image area merely by touching the screen with my finger. It's quite easy and convenient. When the EVF is attached one can still move the AF point around the screen but one loses the easy 'touch screen' option, because the rear LCD blacks out and instead one has to use the AF Frame Adjustment button on the back of the camera to move the Af point. It's more cumbersome than the touchscreen but its there and it works ok.

       

         AF Frame adjustment. Shown here at x10 plus position of AF/MF point in 
        viewfinder

        By pressing the AF Frame Adjustment button - the one below the 'playback 
        button ( blue arrow in a box )  one can move the AF point around the screen. This is
        helpful when using the EVF which if brought up to ones eye, switches off the      
        rear LCD automatically via proximity sensors.

        The other functions of this button is to Recenter the AF  and also to
        Enlarge the AF point by x5 or x10, which is a nice aid in helping with MF or just 
        checking how 'in focus' the image is.


3. Articulated LCD.


I initially thought the articulated rear LCD was a needless complication but I have come to appreciate its practicality and now I don't have to crane my neck so much for overhead shots and it works really easily like the waist level finders of old. 

It also works well for street photography when one flips the LCD up 45 degrees - it then becomes a sort of digital version of a waist level finder- and I find that people don't notice one as much when you have a camera hanging at waist level with ones face and eyes looking down at the LCD. People took less notice of me when I had the camera hanging at waist level and were looking down at the LCD instead of having the camera at eye level pointed towards them. I used this technique quite a lot in my 'street photography' attempts.



        Interior of the Duomo in Amalfi, 2015

        By steadying the camera as described below I could get a very sharp image made at
        a slow shutter speed of 1/5 sec. I used the unstabilized EF-M 22mm f2 at f5.6.



The other unexpected use I found for it was that it helped me steady the camera when I used very slow shutter speeds. I photographed many church interiors and it was a simple thing to rest the camera on the top of the pew in front of me and using the rear like a bipod of sorts, see image below. This enabled me to use very slow shutter speeds and get decent depth of field at low ISO's

The only problem with this articulated rear LCD is that in only really works when the camera is held horizontally


        
        Rear hinged LCD used to steady the camera. 


4. Grip


The grip is a welcome addition and gives at least two fingers something to hold onto. The M3 camera is so small that my pinky doesn't even touch the camera body. But the small grip is better than no grip, although it does make third party grips more difficult to manufacture and fit...We will have to see if there are any innovative Chinese manufacturers that will bring out a grip for the M3.

5. WIFI.


Wifi and NFC is essential in this modern day and age, although at the moment I don't have any device with NFC and thus I cant comment on how well the NFC works.

I had to get my son to set up the WIFI connection and it works well except for one thing , in that I can see the images on my IPad and do live view shooting but I can't see the images as I shoot them on the IPad, as I can on my 6D where as I shoot the images will appear on the Ipad immediately.  When reviewing the images on my I pad the camera asks me if I want to disconnect the moment I press the shutter button ...perhaps there is a way but so far it has eluded me! 

The way to connect the WIFI is by pressing the playback button and then the ISO button. It took me a while to figure that one out!



        
        Fussen, Germany 2015 (1000 iso)


6.  AEB


The M3 has a three shot automatic exposure bracketing setting. Once you set it up by delving into the menu, the Eos M3 will take three, sometimes leisurely images of its own accord and one cannot interrupt or speed up the process.  The AEB can  be frustratingly slow sometimes and at certain ISO settings the third exposure happens much later than the first two. But if the camera is mounted on a tripod or steadied in some way it works well. I often used it in churches where I could steady the camera on the bench in front of me and then via the 2 second self timer trigger the three exposure bracket. 

7. Build in Flash.

The M3 now has a build in flash as opposed to the orginal M's separate external unit. Its pretty weak but it works and it can even be tilted upwards for bounce flash.

Because the flash is so weak , when used tilted,  it takes even longer to recharge. And I also discovered the hard way that if you tilt it back too much it won't flash at all.

Used close up the build in flash still gives a bit of red eye but if the camera is further away like with a small group there is less red eye.



        Tiny low powered build in flash, but at least it can bounce!



8. Spirit Level

The Eos M3 has a dual axis spirit level which is really great! I wish my 6D had the same...at least I now know that there  is a good change that in the future all the Canon models higher up in the chain, and there are many, will also get dual axis spirit levels.




   The rear LCD screen can be set to show all this info, or less, or nothing by toggling    the Info button. Of course all this info is also visible in the EVF.




9. MF Peaking

Another great feature that eventually got implemented by Canon. One can choose one of three colours, red, blue or green and the chosen colour become visible when a specific area is in focus. It helps quite a lot with MF especially with the EVF. I didnt use it on my holiday as trying to do MF with a small screen held at arms length is not my idea of fun! It works well when the EVF is used especially with longer lenses.



10. EVF

There were a lot of complaints about the M3 not having a build in EVF. Imo the EVF is a must and I would not have bought the M3 if it didn't have one, even if its just a add on external one, like this one. Unfortunately there were no stocks available when I got my M3 camera and so I didn't have one for my European holiday. I will do a separate review of it later once I have used it for a while. All I can say at the moment is that is a must have!





           Door, Amalfi 2015



Features and settings that need improvement


1. Build Quality


The Eos M3 camera body definitely feels a slight step down in quality from my 'old' M. I am not saying its badly build or anything like that, it's just that the original Eos M felt more 'metallic' than the new definitely more plastic feeling M3.


2. Shutter

The shutter sound is quite a bit louder than the old M. It has a double sound ending in a somewhat higher pitched note. The old M was a softer 'slick' almost Leica like. The M3's louder shutter is actually a bit of an disappointment and something one should consider if a silent shutter is important

I can't quite put my finger on it but I also have this nasty suspicion that the 'loud' shutter may introduces a bit of shutter shake, which affects the image quality at slower shutter speeds. I haven't done any formal tests to confirm my suspicion by I do find that I have to use a higher shutter speed than I normally do to get acceptably sharp images.

Of course it could also be that the 24mp shows up shutter shake or camera movement more critically than the older 18mp sensor did. Whichever it may be I have to use higher shutter speeds than what I am use to..


3. Auto ISO

The Eos M3 has a very poor implementation of Auto ISO.

I don't really know why that is because its just a simple software tweak. As it is one can only choose the ISO range. IMO this camera should at the very least also have a min shutter speed setting. Especially if, as I suspect, there is some image quality penalty because of the new shutter. As it is the camera chooses relatively low shutter speeds, which means I usually select my own ISO settings to keep the shutter speed high which really defeats the purpose of having an Auto Iso in the first place.

Another small niggle is that one has to turn the dial to move the iso, but  pushing the buttons left or right doesn't adjust the ISO at all. Not a big deal, but I often find myself pushing the buttons to change the ISO instead of turning the wheel.




        Oberammergau, Germany 2015


4. Buffer

The buffer is still too small and it hampers quick street type shooting. I use a Samsung Pro 16gig SD card with a 90mb/s SDHC write speed. A very informal test shows me that if I shoot continuously the buffer fills after about 5 or 6 shots but fortunately clears fairly quickly. Just to be sure this is not an action camera but a bigger buffer will certainly help make the whole shooting process more fluid with less 'waiting for the buffer to clear' time 

The 16gig Samsung SD card matches the two batteries nicely in that I get around 500 shots on the card the same as what I can get out of the batteries. On a heavy days shooting I normally can fill up a 32gig card on my 6D, about 800-1000 shots. So the M3 can only give me about half of that. I didn't really have problems in Europe with batteries or cards but then most days I could return to my apartment or hotel at midday to recharge and download the images, ready for the 2nd part of the day. And also having two camera bodies meant there was always one ready for action.

5. Expensive Battery

I haven't tested how long the battery lasts but according to Canon its about 250shots. I bought a 2nd battery anyway as a matter of course, but what really gets me is how expensive it is! At the time of my purchase there were no 3rd party batteries available.

While I am on the subject of batteries I wonder why they don't just put in a much larger battery, a la 6D and get over with it, the price difference is minimal as it is. The camera can do with a larger grip and I am sure the clever engineers at Canon can easily fit a bigger battery into a larger grip.

5. Kit Lens

I got the standard EF-M 18-55mmf3.5-5.6 IS lens with the M3. 

My first copy was a great disappointment with soft corners at the wide 18mm side and generaly soft at the tele end. Sometimes I really battled to get a sharp image at infinity focus, other times it was sharp...there is nothing as frustrating as an inconsistent lens!

My second copy from Orms was a lot better with sharper wide angles and only the edges at the tele end soft.

The 22m f2 prime is a much better quality lens and the differences in sharpness is quite noticeable. Please Mr Canon give us a good consistent quality standard zooms!

A note about Canon IS zoom lenses. This is my 3rd Canon IS zoom lens this year that has had sharpness issues. I tried two copies of the much praised 16-35 IS F4, and gave them both back because I found the quality to be very poor and I was not completely happy with the copies I have had so far of the M3 kit zooms. I wonder if its the IS that causes some of the sharpness problems?

The moral of the story is of course to check out the lenses before buying them, which  I couldnt do when I bought the M3 kit online....at least Orms was accommodating and immediately send me another lens upon hearing of my complaint. Great service and thanks Eddie!


If you have managed to read this far you would have noticed that I haven't said anything about the AF nor the image quality yet. Well I was saving this bit for last...there is some good news and some bad news.....




         Naples, Italy 2015  (Central train station) Corrected for perspective in LR cc



A. Auto focus - the bad news....

1. AF Speed or the lack thereof...

Canon's press release at launch claimed the new M3 to be about 6 times faster than the original Eos M which was slammed by all and sundry for its slow AF. Canon did bring out a firmware update which improved matters somewhat but the best of the competition beat the M hands down when it came to AF speed.

Well the unfortunate problem is that the M3 is STILL not fast enough. It certainly has improved but the M3 is by no means a street photographers dream. 

One cannot just pick up the M3 and shoot, one has to first acquire focus and then press the shutter. Sometimes the AF locks but other times it doesn't or is slow to find focus. This inconsistent  AF speed makes it much more difficult to predict the cameras behaviour. 

I tried both the 'Face & Tracking' plus the '1 Point AF' setting but in the end it was still a hit and miss affair when trying to shoot quickly. I found it very difficult for instance to get sharp focus on someone walking past me in the streets...so much so that I abandoned the M3 as a 'street photography' tool and instead relied on my 6D which is not known for its speedy AF either and is quite old technology when it comes to AF. But the 6D is still miles ahead when trying to photograph someone walking by, because it locks on in an instant and is fast enough to get the shot without much effort. I just could not do it with the M3.

I had to change my shooting style and be more aware of whats going to happen next and then focus on an area where I thought the action was going to take place. Its a pity because theoretically the M3 should and could be a better street photography tool than the much bigger and noticeable 6D.

When I had more time to focus properly the images were sharp.

It just shows that when one comes late to the party, as Canon has with mirrorless that it takes a long long while to catch up with the early starters. This is Canons third attempt at a mirrorless camera and it still lags far behind the best of the competition when it comes to AF. 

I also wonder why Canon did not use the excellent sensor of the Eos 7Dmk2 & 70D. Its dual sensor technology enables very fast live view focusing and has the added bonus of low high ISO noise....

      
2. Size of the AF frame too large for fine focus

The headline above says it all really and there is not much to add. Getting small details in sharp focus is problematic at wide open apertures especially with longer lenses. I don't know if this can be fixed with a firmware update but if it can be made smaller and still give accurate focusing it will be a worth wile improvement. It s easier to use MF for fine details.

3. Tracking and face recognition

Face recognition works with stationary groups and the M3 will identify a face. 

With closeups using the 85mmf1.8 I found the sharpness of the eyes to be problematic at wide open apertures and the sharpness somewhat inconsistent. It would seem that for closeup head and shoulder portraits, even though it recognizes the face,  the focus is not necessarily on the eyes...which means wide open apertures do not always deliver sharp in focus eyes.  For the moment I rely more on MF than Face Recognition AF for h/s type portraits. 

I need to do more experimentation with face recognition but I also did find on the streets of Europe that it was too slow and therefore pretty useless for fast 'street' photography.

I have also tried Tracking and servo AF but I am unfamiliar with the settings not having used it before and so far it has not worked out for me either...I need more practice before coming to any conclusions...

Below I tried Tracking & Servo Af on the waitresses walking in and out of our restaurant in Munich. I was sitting at a table near the entrance holding the camera quite steady and zooming in and out as she approached but I cant say I was blown over by how well the M3 could keep up with the waitresses, this image is not quite pin sharp and I had quite a low success rate....




        Munich Germany, 2015  Image made at 40mm and f6.3, 1/400sec and 1600iso.
         



B. Image quality - the Good news!


This new 24mp sensors certainly delivers very high quality images at low to med high iso's and apart from potential shadow noise, an old Canon sensor problem actually, its quite ok. 

400iso.

Below is an image I made of the Colosseum in Rome with the EF-M 22mmf2 prime lens. 

The aperture was stopped down quite a bit because the AF spot was on the wall to the right of the tree trunk and I hoped that the tree trunk would also be in focus if I stopped down.

Exposure was f11 at 1/125sec and 400iso. I used a little table top Manfrotto tripod because I was shooting three bracketed exposures (AEB) of +- 2/3 stops and I used the + 2/3 exposure.



        The Colosseum Rome, Italy 2015




I made a large 14.5 x 22 inch print with my HP Z2100 44 inch printer on 17 inch Innova Soft White Cotton fine art roll paper with image quality set to Normal and default Sharpening. 

The image quality is absolutely stunning! The print is sharp and noiseless from corner to corner.





1600iso.

This image of the elderly couple dining out at a posh Munich restaurant was made with my  EF-M 18-55mm IS kit lens at 1/60sec and F6.3 at a focal length of 49mm. Surprisingly the corners were quite sharp here.



        Munich, Germany 2015



I did the Raw conversion in Lightroom CC, and exported to Photoshop with no sharpening settings. I used Topaz Adjust 5, HDR plugin to open up the shadows and reduce the shadow noise and then used the Viveza plugin to give the image some punch and then back again to Topaz for the first and final sharpening using Topaz Infocus.  







I made a slightly larger print than the one of the Colosseum above, same paper size but slightly smaller borders, with image quality set to Normal and Maximum resolution on my HP Z2100 44inch printer using Innova Soft White Cotton fine art paper.

Once again the image quality is stunning! There is a teeny bit of noise creeping in if one looks closely in the mid tone areas but to me it's not objectionable at all and I rather like it as it gives the image a slight film look.

I used this 1600iso image with rather heavy post processing as described above, just like I would normally do and it held up quite well. Make no mistake my full frame 6D will not even break a sweat at 1600iso but its nice to know that I can use 1600iso under these conditions with the M3 and still get superb image quality from the half sized aps-c 24mp sensor.





Dynamic Range

Canon sensors are known to lag  behind the Sony sensor equipped brands when it comes to DR, or more specifically the ability to push the shadows - to make them lighter - without introducing noise.

I find that although there is no banding in the shadows  they are still quite noisy when pushed. To be able to push the shadows successfully I have to resort to third party software like Topaz Adjust. 

I must just mention that I have not compared the M3 shadow noise to other camera brands. So I don't know how this sensor compares, but I know what is acceptable to me or not.

I also don't really like the HDR look so popular these day and prefer my images to be more normal looking and I don't mind shadow areas to be dark or even black with little or no detail and texture. So in all probability my Dynamic Range requirements are less stringent than most other photographers. Keep that in mind.

When pushing shadow areas the noise becomes quite visible.

Here is a shot I made in Germany of a bullit riddled sign board I found at a roadside resting area. 

1. Normal exposure straight from the camera

The first image here is straight from the camera. The image shows adequate detail in the highlights (road sign) but the shadows are very dark, almost black. This is a typical case of a very bright area in the image 'fooling' the meter and underexposing the image a bit.


       
        1. Image straight from the camera. The Shadow areas are almost completely black


2. Shadows made brighter in Lightroom CC

In the next image I lifted the shadows so that the leaves have a lot more detail and texture visible. In the cropped image one can clearly see the noise in the lifted shadow areas . At the lower ISO's the noise in the shadows is particularly noticeable and it looks strange to see the noise free highlights and mid tones next to the noisy shadow areas. 






        2. In this image the shadows were lifted to the max in Lightroom i.e. by 100.


3. More balanced processing.


In the third image below I show a more moderate shadow lifting in post production (+ 50 shadow in LR ) that looks more natural to me than the overly HDR look of image 2. As can be seen there is a lot less noise in the shadows now. This is more in line with how I like to process my images.









         3. Image with moderate pushing of the shadow areas, it looks more natural and 
        also has much less visible noise in the shadow areas


As I said before I don't know how the M3 compares to rival camera brands with Sony sensors ito DR, but for me the DR range is acceptable, just like the DR of my 6D is acceptable for the type of photography that I do. Also exposing to the right will lessen shadow noise problems somewhat and I have found that if I do that I still have acceptable highlight recovery available to me. Bottom line is that the DR of the M3 is ok for my type of photography.

Here is another image shot in Naples of a street scene with half of the scene in sunlight and the other half in shade. I lifted the shadows a bit without making it look like a HDR image and pulled the highlights back quite a bit. This is a fairly contrasty scene and the M3 handled it well.



        Naples, Italy 2015



        
       The crop above shows the fine detail that can be captured with this new 24mp 
       sensor.



This image was made in a park in Munich Germany. I concentrated so much on getting the shot and not being noticed that I forgot to look at my exposure settings....it happens more than I would care to admit and that's why I need a camera that can do auto exposures well! Generally I found the M3 exposure accuracy more than adequate.




         Munich, Germany 2015




        Crop above showing fine detail in faces. EF-M 22mm f2 lens.



Below, another image made at 1600iso and a cropped image to show the detail quality. The image was run through a lot of post processing via Lightroom CC and some plug ins like Topaz and Nik Viveza etc. Exposure 1/20sec, f4 with EF-M 22f2 lens.


   
          Roof detail of the Duomo in Amalfi, 2015







B&W

The colour images from the M3 convert into very nice B&W images. I use Nik Silver Efex for that. I often introduce 'grain' or use the Tri-X setting. The Tri-X setting increases the contrast and adds a lot of grain. I have shot and made large prints of 3200iso images that look just great.

Below the original colour image, the B&W conversion and a detail of the B&W to show the fine details rendering of the M3.

 

        Oberammergau, Germany 2015



 

        EF-M 22mm f2 lens at f8 and 640iso.



Final thoughts.

As I said in the beginning of this review, initially I was a bit disappointed in the new M3 to say the least....The sensor is good but one has to keep an eye out for the noisy shadow areas when pushed and be aware of the relatively noisy shutter and use higher shutter speeds, but it's really the still slowish AF when trying to do some action , and the inconsistent lens quality of the EF-M 18-55mm F3.5 -5.6 IS kit zoom that fell far short of my expectations.

But looking in detail at the thousands of images I made in Germany and Italy at 100% on my monitor, and also comparing them with the images from my 6D, I am more than satisfied with what I managed to achieve with this camera!

Where I knew the M3 would fall short I used my 6D instead, so my holiday photographically speaking was a success and the M3 did not hold me back much and really only when I needed to react very quickly.

 In fact the 13x22 inch prints I made once back home really impressed me with the fine and noiseless image quality that the M3 can deliver between 100 and 1600 ISO. The small and lightweight M3 was easy to carry around and I hardly felt the weight around my neck and shoulders.

This compact size and light weight is after all one of the major reasons for using a camera like the M3 when travelling. 

Something else that I noticed was that a compact camera like the M3 look like a real tourist camera and I found that in Europe people didn't really pay much attention to me, which made it easier to be inconspicuous and 'get the shot'. 

Canon has come very late to the party with its mirrorless cameras and its lens collection is still small, only 4 lenses including only one prime. But the ace in the hole, so to speak is the EF lens adapter which opens up a whole new world of possibilities especially if one is already, like me, heavily invested in the system.  

Lets hope Canon spends a lot of time and money between now and the next M to improve the AF and everything associated with it and hopefully a few more good quality primes, sooner than later... 

Would I recommend it?

I really dislike recommending cameras in general and my first question usually is 'whats the budget?' It all depends what sort of photography you like, whether you are a beginner or more advanced, how much time you spend on your hobby etc etc. Here in my neck of the woods most hobby photographers are into wildlife, and the M3 would be unsuitable for that, even with the EVF and a long zoom.

If you are already into an Eos system like me and also have another fast camera body, its a no brainer.

If its action you want to do or are a first time buyer I would suggest you also look elsewhere.

If your shooting style is more deliberate and you don't care for the HDR look, believe less is more and you want a compact camera with very high image quality, get yourself a M3, an EVF and the EF-M 22mm f2 lens, you wont be sorry! 

As for me, I am keeping mine!


Portfolio

Below is a portfolio of images made with the Canon Eos M3. It is only a very small selection of all the images I made and covers only the first part of our journey to Germany and Amalfi in Italy . Perhaps the proof of the pudding is in the eating and if so the M3 sure delivered some tasty images.


Oberammergau.

First off is a selection of photographs of the pretty little Bavarian town of Oberammergau. The town is characterized by its painted murals on many of the buildings and houses. The area is unbelievably green, neat and oderly, just like any German town should be! The town has a beautiful church with a baroque interior . Looming large over the town is its signature mountain called Kofel with a cross on the summit that can be seen for miles around and was a natural beacon for us when we approached the town. I was also fascinated by all the wood cuttings neatly stacked against the walls of most of the houses in Oberammergau. I was told it was firewood that had been bought in the summer from wood cutters -there are lots of forests around- to be used in winter to warm up the buildings. I can just imagine how smokey it must get...


 
















Etal Abbey.


Etal abbey is just a short drive from Oberammergau. It is a small settlement dominated by the huge Abbey and church with another baroque interior. Just a short walk from the abbey we discovered a peaceful green valley and in the center two trees, a cross and a bench ...










Two Bavarian Castles.

Just a short drive from Oberammergau is the quaint Linderhof Castle. We went for a guided tour and afterwards explored the vast gardens. About 40min drive from Oberammergau is the most popular and most photographed tourist destination in all of Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle!









Munich.

We were in Munich only for a short while and basically just explored the tourist part of the city on foot, marveling at the grand architecture, the many many tourists and the relaxed atmosphere of the gardens.

















Amalfi.

Our first stop in Italy was Amalfi where we stayed for three nights. The town has a impressive church and we were lucky to find a hotel with a superb view of the church, its grand staircase and the piazza in front. The first image here is of my long suffering photo assistant posing for me with the dramatic Amalfi mountains, sky and town as a backdrop early one morning . Amalfi has many little shops catering for the tourist trade and narrow streets where cars can hardly drive through and of course a great beach! The region is very hilly and I saw goods being transported by donkeys up the steep winding paths. Amalfi is right next to the tiny but beautiful town of Atrani and the last two image of this portfolio is of this pretty little seaside town. 






















Comments and questions are welcomed, and thanks for visiting !

Regards,

Ivan




















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